January 7, 2019 11:37am
#KYGA19: What you need to know
The 2019 regular session of the Kentucky General Assembly will begin tomorrow, setting off a 30-day session that is currently scheduled to adjourn on March 29th. Several major issues await the Legislature, ranging from pension reform and education to further changes to the state tax code and sports betting. As we saw in 2017 and 2018, events can unfold quickly and unexpectedly in Frankfort. GLI will be on the ground daily, aggressively advocating for the priorities of the Greater Louisville business community. In December 2018, GLI unveiled its 2019 state legislative priorities. Read more here. We will keep our investors updated during the session through Policy Distilled, which includes this blog and our newsletter, and also on Twitter @GLIAdvocacy.
Read below to learn everything you need to know about the 2019 regular session of the Kentucky General Assembly.
Leadership and Partisan Breakdown
The 2018 elections resulted in 30 new members coming to Frankfort this year but left the overall partisan makeup of the Legislature relatively unchanged. Republicans retained supermajorities in both chambers: 28-9 in the Senate and 61-39 in the House. Incoming leadership positions are listed below. Read more about legislative leadership and committee chairs here.
Senate President: Robert Stivers (R-Manchester)
President Pro-Tempore: David Givens (R-Greensburg)
Majority Floor Leader: Damon Thayer (R-Georgetown)
Majority Whip: Mike Wilson (R-Bowling Green)
Majority Caucus Chair: Julie Raque Adams (R-Louisville)
Minority Floor Leader: Morgan McGarvey (D-Louisville)
Minority Whip: Dennis Parrett (D-Elizabethtown)
Minority Caucus Chair: Johnny Ray Turner (D-Prestonsburg)
Speaker of the House: David Osborne (R-Prospect)
Speaker Pro-Tempore: David Meade (R-Stanford)
Majority Floor Leader: John “Bam” Carney (R-Campbellsville)
Majority Whip: Chad McCoy (R-Bardstown)
Majority Caucus Chair: Suzanne Miles (R-Owensboro)
Minority Floor Leader: Rocky Adkins (D-Sandy Hook)
Minority Whip: Joni Jenkins (D-Shively)
Minority Caucus Chair: Derrick Graham (D-Frankfort)
You can find the full calendar for the 2019 session online but there are a few dates of particular importance. Be aware, however, that at least some of these dates are subject to change.
January 8: Session Convenes
January 8-11: Organizational Session – Swearing in of new members, formally electing leadership, naming committee chairs, and setting committee rosters
January 14-February 4: Recess – Some committees will meet, but they don’t normally take any action
February 5: Regular Session Convenes
February 15: Last Day for New Senate Bills
February 19: Last Day for New House Bills
March 12-13: Concurrence Days
March 14 -25: Veto Recess
March 28-29: Two Final Legislative Days with Sine Die Adjournment scheduled for March 29
There are no legislative elections again until 2020, but all of Kentucky’s statewide constitutional offices are up for election in 2019. One can expect these races to have at least some level of impact on the 2019 session, as candidates stake out positions on key legislative issues.
Statewide constitutional office in the Commonwealth include Governor and Lt. Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, State Auditor, Agriculture Commissioner, and State Treasurer. The filing deadline for these offices is January 29. Primary Election day is May 21. The General Election will take place on November 5.
A preview of the major legislative issues of 2019 is in large part a review of unfinished business from the 2018 session. Reform of the public employees’ pension systems was, of course, the dominant 2018 issue. Legislation to accomplish some reforms was passed in 2018 but was subsequently struck down by the Kentucky Supreme Court on legal grounds related to the process of its passage. The Governor called a special session last month to address the issue, but lawmakers adjourned two days later without passing a bill. As a result, the General Assembly will be faced with grappling with the issue again this year.
The 2018 General Assembly also took steps toward tax reform. In 2019, the legislature will likely revisit this topic again to address various aspects of tax policy, such as the new mandate on combined reporting and sales taxes on nonprofit organizations. Further tax reform was studied during the interim and remains a possibility but no definitive plan has been unveiled. Some policymakers, however, have commented that there may be little appetite for further action in 2019.
Other items carrying over from 2018 are proposals to increase transportation funding to shore up the Road Fund and meet the dire needs of infrastructure repair and maintenance. Prison and jail overcrowding and the opioid crisis will continue to drive further looks at criminal justice reform and treatment for substance abuse.
Two notable subjects that were not fully on the legislative agenda in 2018 are also likely to receive attention in 2019. In the wake of school shootings in Kentucky and elsewhere across the nation, a legislative School Safety Work Group has met over the interim and it is expected that legislation will follow from the hearings held by that group. A United States Supreme Court ruling in May 2018 struck down a federal law prohibiting state authorization of sports wagering and Kentucky is expected to join a number of other states in considering legislation to allow state-regulated sports wagering.